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NY has first free fishing weekend of 2020 on Feb. 15-16

Posted 11 February 2020 at 2:49 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the first statewide free fishing weekend in New York for 2020 will take place on February 15 and 16. During these designated days, residents and visitors are permitted to fish for free without a fishing license.

“New York is home to hundreds of lakes, streams and rivers, allowing amateur and expert anglers alike to get outdoors and experience the world-class fishing we have to offer, as well as the communities that host them,” Governor Cuomo said. “With free fishing this weekend, I encourage residents and our out-of-state neighbors to pack a tackle box and a cooler, grab a fishing pole, and head out to have some fun with a pastime that I and so many of our fellow New Yorkers enjoy.”

The free fishing days program is part of the Governor’s NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative and the upcoming free fishing days are the first of several planned for 2020. The free fishing days program began in 1991 to give people who might not fish a chance to try the rewarding sport at no cost, introduce people to a new hobby, and encourage people to support the sport by purchasing a New York State fishing license.

“This is a great time of year for families and novice anglers to try ice fishing as a new outdoor activity,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Many schools are on mid-winter recess next week, so we selected Presidents’ Day weekend as the first of several free fishing opportunities planned in New York to coincide with a time when anglers of all abilities are able to fish this winter.”

Winter anglers can catch a variety of fish while ice fishing, primarily perch, sunfish, pickerel, northern pike, and walleye. In addition, many waters throughout New York State are open to fishing for trout, lake trout, and landlocked salmon.

DEC reminds anglers to put safety first when ice fishing. This is particularly important during periods of freezing and thawing that most areas of New York have been experiencing lately. Four inches of solid ice is usually safe for anglers accessing ice on foot. However, ice thickness can vary on every waterbody or even within the same waterbody.

Anglers should be particularly wary of areas of moving water and around boat docks and houses where bubblers may be installed to reduce ice buildup. The presence of snowmobile tracks or footprints on the ice should not be taken as evidence of safe ice conditions. Individuals are strongly encouraged to check ice conditions and avoid situations that appear to present even a remote risk. Testing the thickness of ice can easily be done with an auger or ice spud at various spots.

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